The EYE Is Watching You!

In the last ten years or so there’s been a lot of talk about how modern America is becoming a surveilance society, meaning that more and more we are being watched.

Don’t believe me?

The next time you leave your home take a look around and try counting how many video cameras you see. You’ll find them in stores, outside those stores watching the parking lot, banks, and a whole host of other places. Don’t forget the essentially hidden cameras in ATM machines. Ok, they’re not exactly hidden but frankly, people don’t even really notice them unless they’re pointed out once in a while but the fact is that any time you do something at an ATM machine, your picture is being taken and many more of them will keep video of your visit as well.

Now I understand that from a security standpoint it makes sense. If nothing else companies are trying to do two things with these hidden and not so hidden cameras. First, they’re trying to deter theft or at least make it easier to catch thieves. Second, they’re also very interested in covering their butts. In the event of a lawsuit (especially bogus lawsuits) they can trot out that security footage and show what really happened.

However with all this comes the fact that privacy is taking a major hit as well. Where do we draw the line and say “No, you can’t put a camera there”?

I’m very much in favor of security and being secure. I agree 100% with being able to identify and catch thieves and people trying to pull scams and press bogus lawsuits. I also believe very strongly in privacy and consider it to be one of those basic human rights that we all have that cannot be lightly taken away.

The question is: How do we strike a balance here?

I don’t know the answer but while people argue over it, more security cameras are going up every day.

[tags]security, camera, cctv, hidden camera, spy cameras, privacy, tracking, theft prevention[/tags]

HTTPS Everywhere For Online Privacy

Privacy and the potential for identity theft is a big topic these days. Yet most people carelessly surf the web every day without regard to their privacy.

You see, even though you may not actually have anything to hide, it’s still a matter of good sense to keep your browsing private. Regardless of whether you’re reading phentermine reviews, buying a new car or checking your online bank statement, you really should take steps to keep your browsing private.

One reason is that you want to make it harder for people to steal your login information to sites like your bank’s website, any and all sites that you have a paid membership to and sites where you make online purchases and of course, your social networking site logins.

One way to achieve this is to always use HTTPS, also known as SSL, encrypted links. The problem is that not nearly enough sites use it. One way to help increase your security is to use a Firefox plugin called Https Everywhere. It rewrites urls for many sites so that your session is protected by end to end encryption.

It’s not a cure all, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The cure all would involve ALL websites exclusively using HTTPS on all connections. It would also involve people learning how to use encryption in their emails but that’s another subject that I’ll reserve for it’s own rant.

[tags]http, https, https everywhere, security, private browsing, privacy, identity theft, session hijacking[/tags]

Dubai Cutting Off It’s Nose To Spite It’s Face

I predict that over the next year Dubai will be seeing a decrease in tourism because of the way they’re going overboard with their draconian decency laws.

There’s been a bunch of cases in the news lately that serve as prime examples and I have absolutely zero doubt that they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

One example is the case of a British couple that was tossed in jail because somebody said they saw them kissing in public.

Another is the case of a flight attendant and her cabin services supervisor who were convicted of “coercion to commit sin” because of some allegedly explicit text messages that they exchanged. Hello, McFly. If those are private text messages then it’s none of anybody’s business what’s in them.

All I can say is that unless you plan on being celibate, keeping everyone at an arm’s length away from you then perhaps you’d be better off to find another place to spend your vacation. Someplace where you can’t be thrown in jail for kissing someone.

Talk about ridiculous! I’m all for morality and decency but that is taking things entirely too far.

[Tags]dubai, decency, morality, stupid laws, draconian laws, tourist trade, fail[/tags]

Good Secure Passwords

After seeing an article on Techcrunch about twitter banning a list of 370 passwords because they were too commonly used and easily broken, I thought I’d talk for a bit about good passwords.

The links mentioned are in the (more info) section of the YouTube page for the video

[Tags]password, security, twitter, bad password, weak password, diceware, strong password, password tips, good password, vlog, equals pi, =π, π, pi, 3.14, 3.141592, tinfoil chef[/tags]

The Feds And Their Video Games

According to an article on Axcess News, the feds are indeed using video games. Although to give a little credit, they’re not just sitting around an XBox playing Halo 3: ODST. Instead, they’re using a network of original PS3’s with Linux installed on them to crack passwords.

“Bad guys are encrypting their stuff now, so we need a methodology of hacking on that to try to break passwords,” said Claude E. Davenport, a senior special agent at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center, known as C3. “The Playstation 3 – its processing component – is perfect for large-scale library attacks.”

They’ve got a network of 20 PS3’s that can test four million passwords per second and they’re hoping to add another forty machines.

Now I get that they’re supposedly only doing this with encrypted material that is on computers that they have a warrant to search but I can’t help thinking that there’s serious potential for abuse here as well.

Thinking out loud here.. If a six character password can have 256^6 possible combinations (almost 282 trillion) like the article said, suppose somebody were to use a 100 character password?

Hrm… 256^100 = 6.6680144328798542740798517907213e+240

That should take a while to crack.

[Tags]cyber crimes, ps3, playstation 3, linux, passwords, password cracking[/tags]